For the past two summers, scholarship recipient Zoe Zhang has traveled to China’s Xinjiang province where she worked closely with the children of a small Central Asian ethnic minority called the Uyghur people. The Uyghurs are Muslim Turks, who identify more with the Turkish countries surrounding the region than China itself. They are often discriminated against and have a very difficult time moving beyond their remote villages to integrate into larger parts of the country. The region is quite poverty stricken and many of the students have limited access to education, let alone exposure to arts and music.
On Zoe’s first trip to Xinjiang, she used arts and music to teach English language skills and culture. This past summer, Zoe organized a program entitled, “Lights, Camera, Action,” which provided the students with digital cameras to learn how to express themselves through images and storytelling.
Since returning last summer, Zoe has received second prize and an additional scholarship from the Young Musicians Making a Difference program through DePauw University School of Music for “Lights, Camera, Action.” She also set up a GoFundMe page, where she has collected $1,200 for her return to China. Additionally, Zoe has organized bake sales where she sells homemade cookies and brownies to fund her trip. She uses her Music Doing Good Scholarship to cover expenses, as well.
Zoe’s latest update informed Music Doing Good that she will apply for The Princeton Prize in Race Relations, an awards program for high school students who lead and organize efforts to improve race relations within their schools or communities. The Prize was founded in 2003 to support and encourage young activists committed to improving race relations.
As part of her application for The Princeton Prize, Zoe writes, “By introducing western culture to the Uighur children, I was able to present an image of racial harmony, the world flourishing with different races, living in one accord, instead of the abundance of hatred and poverty that they see daily. I planted the message of individual responsibility in maintaining respect and being respected towards racial, ethnic, and cultural differences in the hearts of the future Uyghur generation.”
Needless to say, we are infinitely proud of Zoe and her huge heart in helping these people on the other side of the planet. Music Doing Good will continue to cheer loud and hard for this exceptional young lady!